June 2017 is a remarkable month in our lives as we celebrate Christine, my wife’s gaining employment as a secondary school teacher. This is both a surprise and good news because it reminds us where we started as wife and husband, and how through God’s grace we discovered our ‘true identity’ in Jesus Christ.
Our marriage did not start on an equal footing. In my culture, the education of girls and women was not a priority and therefore Christine was given for marriage before she could complete her education. Although I was already an ordained priest when we got married, I did not see any problem with this, as it was our custom and tradition, and even child marriages were acceptable! In many patriarchal societies, marrying uneducated women is a plus for men, since this means husbands have all cultural rights to control their wives any way they want. Among our people, it is a common saying that “uneducated women make good wives because they are submissive and obedient and literarily do not question anything in marriage, including marrying additional wives.”
This is the environment into which I was born and nurtured, and on this footing, I entered marriage as a man who wanted to control his wife as culture dictated. My faith and theological training did not challenge this culture of abuse against women and girls because even churches around me were teaching patriarchy as God’s design and the way of faith! Rather, it was reading the academic journals published by Christians for Biblical Equality that totally challenged my cultural and religious thoughts and beliefs about women, and that’s how Christine, my wife, was released from the bondage of captivity and abuse – when I was transformed by the truth of the Bible about equality for women and men. She then went back to school and today, we celebrate her victory as a secondary school teacher with formal government employment!
My experience of this truth of biblical equality, birthed in me an eminent and irresistible passion to reach out and empower churches, as well as men and women from my community (and especially my fellow priests) with the biblical truth about equality. As a result, I made a request to my Bishop to release me from full-time pastoral/priestly ministry so that I could minister to the wider society through Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE).
EFOGE is a registered, faith-based organization we founded to reach out to churches, faith-based organizations and community groups with the love of God that empowers both men and women to acknowledge their true image and identity in Christ Jesus. We provide training for churches on Discipleship Classes on Domestic Violence, Christian Approach to Positive Parenting, and Biblical Understanding of Gender Equality with faith leaders. We also provide support for vulnerable girls so they can stay in school and get an education by providing school fees and sanitary towels.
EFOGE recently initiated a building facility project to respond to, provide immediate assistance (counseling and otherwise) and house and women and girls who have been sexually abused (rape and sexual violence victims).
EFOGE’s goal is to identify and stop ‘root causes’ of Violence Against Women in the church, home and society by targeting and transforming cultural orientations and practices among Africans that oppress and devalue women and girls. These abhorrent practices include female genital mutilation/cutting, polygamous marriages, early and forced marriages of under-aged girls, etc.
EFOGE also hopes to counter-act: biblical misinterpretations and religious beliefs that justify patriarchy/male dominance as God’s ideal and which breeds devaluation of women and girls, domestic violence, sexual violence, and lack of women leadership in churches; political systems that isolate women from full participation in the democratic process, leadership and decision making process.
Find out more about EFOGE and partner with us to end patriarchy among African peoples by visiting http://www.efogeinternational.org
The Rev’d Domnic Misolo is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya in the Diocese of Bondo. He is married to Christine and they are blessed with three lovely children – Bill, 6, Mimi, 3, and Sam, 10mth. He is the founder of Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE), a registered faith based (non-profit) organization championing gender justice and equality from a faith perspective. He holds a degree in Theology from St. Paul’s University and Great Lakes University of Kisumu – Kenya. Dominic is an inspired individual, a Fellow of Tearfund UK for innovative and talented young leaders. Domnic has been recognized both by Skoll World Forum as a Social Entrepreneur, and by Lausanne Global Movement as an emerging young evangelical influencer for Global Mission.